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Canada's Inflation Rate

June 8, 2022

Hon. Leo Housakos [ + ]

Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate. Yesterday, the NDP-Liberal government had an opportunity to make life more affordable for Canadians by supporting a motion from the official opposition in the other place. The motion put forward concrete actions that would help Canadians dealing with record food, fuel and housing inflation immediately — not next year, but right now.

Of course, your government voted against it. Government leader, I’ve raised the cost of living crisis with you many times and I haven’t gotten the sense that your government understands the desperation that many families feel right across Canada.

Leader, does your government still believe that inflation is transitory? Is that why you won’t cut taxes on gas or/and the mandates? Was your refusal to support yesterday’s motion strictly a partisan decision, or was it ideological? What is it with your government?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Honourable senators, I know it’s not a tradition in this place, as it is in my community, to answer a question with a question, but I might leave unstated the questions I might have posed to you about the motivations behind the motion to which you refer.

The government is aware and cares about the cost of living for Canadians and continues to focus on making life better and more affordable for Canadians. That there are differences in policy approaches between the party of which you’re a part and the current government is part of democratic politics. This government will continue to work in the best interests of Canadians as they face the real challenge of increases in the cost of living that we’re all experiencing.

Senator Housakos [ + ]

Government leader, do you recognize that the average Canadian family in Canada will be spending $1,000 more this year than they did last year for food, for milk, for eggs, for bread — essential elements needed for parents to feed their children? I appreciate that for the Prime Minister and his cabinet and maybe parliamentarians $1,000 isn’t that much, but for your average Canadian family that is a substantial burden to carry.

In this country, we have been facing 30-year high inflation rates. We are currently in a situation where fruits and meats are 10% more costly than they were exactly a year ago. That’s the reality, government leader, and your government has taken actions that are making food more expensive for farmers to produce, including the carbon tax and the tariff on fertilizer imports. At a time of record inflation, when many Canadians are forced to choose between buying food and paying their bills, why are your policies that are making food even more expensive for Canadians something your government is still embracing and holding dear to?

Senator Gold [ + ]

The government’s economic policies are designed to help not only consumers but also producers and all Canadians to weather difficult economic times. The government is aware, as I am personally, of the increases in the cost of living. You’re quite right that we as parliamentarians, as well as many Canadians, are fortunate that we are able to bear these increases far more easily than most, and it is the situation of most Canadians who are struggling that is the focus of this government.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate. Leader, a poll conducted for Food Banks Canada has found that almost a quarter of Canadians are eating less than they should be, because they don’t have enough money for food. For Indigenous households, this number rises to 45%, leader. A month ago, the Ottawa Food Bank said the number of people needing their assistance was at its highest in their entire 38-year history. Harvest Manitoba in Winnipeg says they’ve seen a 40% increase year over year in the number of people they’re supporting across every part of my province.

Leader, this NDP-Liberal government’s spending is fuelling the inflation behind record food bank usage across Canada. Even your own former finance minister Bill Morneau criticizes your economic mismanagement. Where is your plan, leader, to stop hunger and food insecurity in our country?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Thank you for your question. Again, it’s an important and serious one that affects millions of Canadians and their families. This government has been there for Canadians through difficult economic times and continues to be there through difficult economic times. It continues to be there for those who grow, produce and distribute food to Canadians and will continue to be there for them.

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